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  • Interesting. I always thought the 3:1 drink was a recovery thing and not a preworkout; good to know it goes for both! I like the idea of dates and agave for fast and slow burn. I like them even more if they’re in some raw brownies instead of a beverage 🙂
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Catch Up, Run, Devour! =-.

  • This is really helpful; I am one of those people who is always hungry, and often eats a giant haphazard serving of whatever I fancy prior to my workout. Thank you for this superb guide; tomorrow? I’ll put it to the test 😉

  • Hi. This is a little off topic but I’ve been wondering something.
    I read a lot of running and nutrition blogs, everything from Vegan to Paleo. It seems that both ends of that spectrum claim that they perform physically very well.
    I’m somewhere in the middle but always interested in what others do.
    Through the years I’ve also read a lot of books about running and nutrition. One book that I read was “Eat Right For Your Type”. It says that your diet should be based on your blood type because some blood types evolved from earlier ones depending on the foods that people ate as societies developed.
    So I’m wondering if you’ve heard about this idea and if your blood type “fits” your diet choice?
    Bob (Downtown Runner)

    1. Hey Bob, thanks for your comment and good question. My wife read that book a few years ago and liked it, and I think the premise is sound. I always like using evolutionary history as a way to figure out what we’re “made” to eat, so the idea of eating the foods that were around when our particular blood types came about is interesting. I’m sure there are some criticisms of it, but I haven’t looked into it enough.
      Anyway, I tried to find out my blood type by asking my doctor, and she said they didn’t have it! Nowhere on file, nor was it an option for testing when I got bloodwork done. I guess I need to consult my birth certificate, and I don’t know where that is…
      Ultimately, I think you can do pretty well by noticing what foods make you feel good and give you the most energy. Knowing the foods that work for your blood type probably provides good guidelines though.

      1. If you donate blood, your blood type will be on your donor card. I’ve found that the off-season is a good time for that, as there aren’t as many races to schedule a donation around.

        1. Thanks Helen. That’s a good idea. And I suppose it wouldn’t be the most selfish thing I could do, either.
          The only time I tried was right after 9/11, and they turned me away because they said they didn’t need any more blood. My wife does it a lot though.

      2. I don’t think any Red Cross would turn you down for a blood donation. You definitely don’t want to donate blood near a race event.
        How long does it take my body to replace blood I donated?
        “The body immediately works on restoring blood that was donated. Fluid stored in the tissues returns to the blood stream. Red blood cell production speeds up. A donor’s blood volume is restored within a few hours. Red blood cells replace themselves more slowly, but are restored within the interval between donations.” (Every 56 days.)

        1. You can find a blood typing kit at some health food stores which is made by the “Eat Right for Your Type” people. I found it in the book section with “Eat Right” and “Cook Right for Your Type”. It has the same type face on it as the books. It only takes a few minutes to get your blood type using the kit.

      3. If I were you, I would change doctor. How can a doctor say that you cannot be tested to determine blood group. It’s absolutely essential: if ever you have a transfusion, receiving the wrong blood type can be fatal.

        1. You would NEVER be given a transfusion without being typed and crossed. There are many antibodies your blood may contain that would also be a problem. If it is a true emergency you would be given type O.

  • Love the tips! Just need to use them. My kids, and a few running buddies, kept telling me that I need more than water when I do distance. I could not get around the gross – IMHO – taste of Gatorade or Powerade. I have managed to live with the G2 that is not as sugar filled but only when doing 8 or more miles.
    I bought some flaxseed on Saturday. Couldn’t remember why so now I must search here as I am sure it was something I read on your blog.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..A Love List to My Life =-.

  • Little bits of fat definitely goes a long way! I used to add globs of peanut butter before working out, and found that it cramped me up. Then I eliminated fat pre-workout, only to find that I was starving through an entire long run. Now I like a tsp of nut butter (or flax, like you mentioned). It helps with absorbing vitamins as well as keeping me full on the longer runs, minus the cramps. 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Running with Sneakers =-.

  • Thanks Matt this is helpful. I usually don’t have my pre-workout meal as a smoothie, but when I do I can tell I don’t have to worry about digesting as much. I usually have a nice bowl of oats with a nut butter and maybe some protein powder added in if I have at least 3 hours before a long run.
    Can’t wait for the recovery post!
    .-= Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather´s last blog ..Snowshoeing in Paradise =-.

  • This is some solid stuff, though I’d also like to point out that there does seem to be benefits of not having anything prior to a workout. There is even research studies that suggest that training in a glycogen depleted state allows the body to be stressed at a greater level, of which, given the proper recovery, is able to make greater adaptions, thus giving that workout more bang for the buck. Of course, the recovery part here is key, so switching all this pre-workout nutrition stuff to a post-workout meal would be ideal. Anyways, it’s something to think about.
    Check this post out for specifics:

    1. Matt, thanks for your comment; that’s really interesting. I’ve heard of (and tried) the Greg McMillan method of restricting all carbohydrate before and during workouts, as well as a similar approach advocated by Stu Mittleman.
      My biggest problem (and with this, I was still eating non-carb foods, like almonds, during runs): I couldn’t get very far into an intense/long workout without bonking and thus having the workout ruined completely when I didn’t take in sugars beforehand or during.
      I can see how there might be some benefit to the approach during easy or moderate workouts; the glycogen depletion idea makes conceptual sense then. But what about when they’re tough or long, and not having sugar prevents you from finishing the workout at all?
      Have you tried it? What has been your experience?

  • Great post Matt. Just came across your blog today! its great. I am always trying to encourage my clients to focus on their pre and post nutrition, its so important, will refer them to this link for sure.

      1. thats a great question!!
        I am a stay at home mother, with a graphic design business (also doing a bit of voiceover work) but with a passion in fitness, nutrition all that jazz. I have been qualified as a personal trainer for over 10 years now, but never wanted it as a profession, its more a passion.
        .-= Amanda Thebe´s last blog ..I’m not just all about fitness….. =-.

  • Hi Matt,
    I’ve been following your blog for about a month now and finally decided to post – great information!
    I usually get up at 5 and get over to the gym for my work out by 5:45(just 30 minutes of running or 20 with some lifts) and being in a dorm I can’t make up a whole lot in a short amount of time. My problem is that I’m usually exhausted still from waking up and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for getting some energy in the morning when I’ve only got about 45 minutes to prep and eat. Anything warm and light yet filling and good that you could recommend?
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..Lent / Mardi Gras Dinner =-.

    1. Hey Daniel, always good to hear from a first-time commenter. You sound quite dedicated for a college kid; I know when I was in college I used to think 8 am was early to go to the gym!
      Hmm, 45 minutes… I used to drink big meal replacement shakes right before lifting/running, and they never digested in time. If you are able to get a blender and ingredients for the drink I linked to above, that might work well. It’s not heavy, so it will digest quickly. I would just try that and maybe make substitutions for a few ingredients that are unavailable or that you find too heavy for that early in the morning.
      Warm, light, and filling? That might be harder. I know a lot of people like bagels, maybe with a little peanut butter and banana. The starch isn’t ideal, but you could try it. I’ll think about this more and let you know if I come up with anything.

  • I understand that it can be good to just drink yerba mate 15-20 minutes before exercise and perhaps before meals because other then a natural energy booster, it is also an appetite suppressant, all the while supplying numerous nutrients.

    1. Yoda, I hear a lot of those things about yerba mate too. Some say it’s a different type of caffeine from what’s common in coffee and soft drinks. Others say caffeine is caffeine, and always bad for you. I think from time to time, especially for workouts, it’s fine, and may help you perform better.
      To call it an energy booster is a little misleading, because anything that causes your body to go into a stress reaction will eventually cost you energy. So it’s a temporary way to speed up your system, but this must inevitably be followed by a period of lower-than-normal energy to make up for it.

  • All my workouts for cross-county and track have been/are after school, 2 to 3 hours after lunch (depending on my schedule).
    Do you think I should I try to bring something for lunch that will help me on workout days? Or should I try to have something to eat right after school, about 15 minutes before warming up?
    There is nothing mentioned about nutrition as relates to running by my coaches or any other runners at my high school, so it makes me wonder how much better everyone could perform if they knew what to eat.

    1. Alisha, I would think you should bring something small to have after lunch, closer to the workout, especially if the workouts are intense. But what you eat 2 to 3 hours before your workout will have an effect on your workout, so you should think about what you’re eating then and figure out what leads to yours best workouts.
      That’s so surprising that nobody talks about nutrition. For me, it plays such a big part. Have you read Thrive? Brendan Brazier talks about how much he focused on nutrition during high school, and he cites it as a big reason for his success as an athlete, saying he didn’t have much natural ability.

      1. Thanks for the tips. I always bring a healthy, well-rounded lunch.
        I have not read Thrive; you’ve given it a lot of press on your blog and I’m sure I will read when I can get a hold of a copy!
        I wish my coaches did include nutrition as part of the things we learn! I know that nutrition is very important to running and exercise; your body is made with the materials you give it! I try my best.
        My friends all think I am crazy when it comes to health and food.

  • Great stuff here! I just found this site today!
    My question is if you don’t do a heavy starch and you just have a simple shake for a pre-run meal, how long before the run should we drink it? I’m not used to having something too soon, but if it’s just a little glass of something, I can’t see it being a problem 15-20 min before running. What do you think?
    I’m training for a 1/2 and 6 miles is my longest long run so far. But I’m now in the running over an hour category, so I’ve been focused more on nutrition and energy before, during, and after my runs.

    1. Jill, you’re exactly right, 20 minutes or so before the workout is good. In fact, if you’re following the principle of including a quick-working sugar like glucose, you wouldn’t want to wait any longer than that because the sugar will be used up before you start!
      As for those first runs of over an hour, I’d say the most important thing is to go really slow! It’s such a foreign thing for the body to run that far at first, and going REALLY slowly is the best way (I think) to manage it.

  • Here’s what I have been trying – and it really has worked for me but I have some questions.
    My preworkout stack is the Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack, and also 30 Minutes before workout take 20g whey protein
    any good reccomendations on buying the Max Powers Anabolic Stack in bulk ? I want to use the stack for 3 months, off for three months and then on again for 3 months. Any bulk options?
    thinking about adding Vitamin C also, i’m just trying to mix and match to see what my body works well with and buy it all in bulk so i can save money.
    thanks for any feedback.

    1. Jesse, wish I could help. I honestly have no idea about all that stuff. The only “supplements” I take are hemp protein powder and flax or hemp oil, but they’re so close to normal foods that I hardly consider them supplements.

  • I’m usually too rushed to eat anything before my strength training, I just take some water or Greener Grasses with me. After I like Dr Schulze’s Superfood to give me that boost for repair. I like Chia too ground on cooked Apples for breakfast.
    Thanks for the info, I’ll check out some of your ingredients.

  • i’ve been making green juice daily for about a month now. i love what it does for me in the long run, but i notice right after taking the juice (1st thing in the AM on an empty stomach), i feel groggy, almost like i’m stoned. don’t get me wrong-i’m all about getting high on juice, but i’m looking for more of an energy burst. what’s my problem? (i usually drink about 30 oz, combo of kale, celery, romaine, lemon, 2 apples, ginger)…HELP!

  • Hi!
    I’m a vegan and I’m running my first half on Dec 4th. I can fairly easily run 8.25 miles and I’m doing 11ish this Saturday. I usually never eat or drink anything other than water before I run. However, I usually wake up and am out the door w/in 30 minutes. I’m concerned that on raceday b/c I have to get up really early to get to the race (about 3 hours ahead of time) that I will be really hungry during the race. I wanted to test out whatever I do this weekend. Any ideas? Should I do a smoothie of watered down oj, some soy milk, and coconut oil? I got a vega post-workout powder thing b/c I couldn’t find a preworkout one. It has 20g of protein. Maybe I could do half of that instead of soymilk? My stomach is usually not so happy in the mornings which is why I usually just eat post run.
    Oh, and for the half, I’m not going for time at all. I’m a really slow runner. My running buddy is doing it so I decided to go as well. My goals are to try to run the whole thing but stop if anything starts to hurt and to finish.
    Any advice would be awesome. I really like this blog. Just found it today. I might reward myself for doing the half w/ one of your shirts!
    Thanks! And happy Thanksgiving!

  • Excellent site and tons of information! One thing I would like to add is that nutrition should be a 24/7 planning and not just pre and post workouts. Having solid diet at least 6 days per week will yeild optimal results and help the body recover and get stronger. I smile when people make coments on carbo loading prior to a run. If one has to “carbo load” prior to a run then their daily diet is not solid! One should be able to get up and head out the door with little or no planing of what to eat prior to a run. Nutrition is KEY to better performance and a healthier body.
    Run free.

  • Are you for real ? do I sweat in a workout ? this is rubbish. I have not anyone who did not sweat in a workout & if you don’t sweat then I bet all my stars your not working out hard enough. Sweat releases energy within the body 🙂

  • I thought I was alone on the caffeine before you run thing. Most articles that I’ve read stress the issue that coffee is a diuretic, and therefore makes you lose more water from your body than you take in.
    I’ve never really had that issue though. In fact, I’ve felt that the benefit of helping me get motivated for a more intense run outweighs any Dehydration issues.
    I did a little more digging and found a 2005 study by the University of Connecticut that challenged the common notion that coffee, and caffeine specifically, acts as a common diuretic.
    Among a group of healthy males, the results of the study found no evidence of a link between caffeine consumption and dehydration. There was also no evidence of any change in body mass or the number of electrolytes and creatinine levels in the participants.
    Here’s the link in case you’re interested in the article:

  • Haha, I eat lots of fat before runs and it never affects me. I normally eat bread, too lol. I’ve tried eating fruits– like bananas before runs but it always gives me stomach cramps. But by mashing it with peanut butter i find it really digestable 🙂

  • Love your site and your mails but I have to disagree with something on this posting.
    I have been involved in sports nutrition and training of top athletes for over 20 years and I would totally disagree with the caffeine advice.
    Caffeine is a diuretic and vaso contrictor. When you take it your heartbeat will increase as it is a stimulant. If you are doing sport one of the last things you want is to push your heartbeat higher when you are working at your optimum level. Caffeine also is a vaso constrictor which causes your blood pressure to rise which again you do not want this during exercise. The diuretic action of caffeine also is not helpful as your kidneys will be doing extra work whilst you are running which takes energy away from your other muscles.
    Just a few points but I believe them to be important.
    With regards the salt thing:Hyponatremia is incredibly rare and the number of cases of this is tiny. Only last week there was a documentary which included information about this and all the studies show that it is almost non existant among sportspeople and those that do get it have been found to have drunk a huge amount of water at the END of the event instead of drinking small amounts either during or at regular intervals after the event has finished.

    1. Paul,
      I’ve been told that caffeine isn’t even necessary at all for humans, and possibly detrimental.
      Are you 100 vegan? What works for you?

  • Wow. Did I need to hear the 3:1 ratio essential. I’m low carbing for fat loss and have pretty much got my pre-workout carbs nailed but it needs just a little fine tuning. I was a little high on protein and just a little low on carbs. I think this ratio will be perfect! And thanks for pointing out there are other carbs besides oatmeal and sweet potatoes. I can’t wait to try Brendan Brazier’s recipe drink. Just a fantastic article and such a big help, to me. –Thanks SO much for addressing this.

  • I currently use Brendan’s Line of pre and post workout powders. Looking at the breakdown of ingredients and nutrition labels. I think I’m getting what I need before workouts. Although I always add 3 Dates before my workout. I am a newly converted whole food plant eater and I cannot get over how much energy I have and how long it stays with me when I take the Vega Pre workout drink and a few dates. YUMMY! Does this pre workout info also go for people who lift weights or is it runners only info???

  • Matt,
    We seem to have a lot in common. Your Myth article is right on the money!
    I would like to quote them (one at a time) on my Wall.
    Love your blogs. I came across it when I was looking for some recipe. I also like your tee shirts but the ones I like to order are out of stock!
    When are you going to have them?

    1. Feel free to quote it on your Wall. Shirts — I’m hoping we’ll have a larger selection in stock in mid-May.

  • Hi! I just found your blog today and I like it. I have been running seriously for about 2 months now. Averaging 12 miles a week. I just started traing for a half and I was wondering what exactly can I eat/drink after the first 6 miles to maintain my energ? I do not want any caffiene. What do you suggest? Thank you!

  • I’ve run marathons and half marathons, drunk alcohol before and not drunk alcohol before, carb loaded and not carb loaded, smoked a little and not smoked a little, experimented with food and not experimented with food, and it’s not made a blind bit of difference. Unless you’re an elite athlete, in my opinion, don’t worry about it.

  • I think it makes a huge difference what you eat all day and not only right before your workout. As I went vegan about 5 months ago I not only changed what I eat but also how much and how often. I eat a lot of fruit between meals and I find this keeps my energy levels even and has also reduced my need to eat before a workout in the evening. I just came home from a 1:20h run (slow and easy). I went directly to the trail after work (people looked at me a bit funny as I was changing the car) and started running around 5:30pm. I snacked on a home made energy bar while running (from the Thrive book) and had some electrolyte laced water (no sugar) and felt great the whole time. No issues with my energy levels at all. I drank some Chocolate almond milk on my way home to tie me over until I got home.

  • Interesting website Matt. looking forward to more tips. My 14 yr old son is very athletic and we have been trying to wean him off of a meat based diet, with some difficulty. He is also big on bread type carbs and find him sluggish with not enough fuel during games.

  • Hi everyone, i learned about NMA last sunday in the Miami half marathon as a girl was wearing a shirt with the logo. I am glad i found you!

  • I’ve been running for about 15 years, and I’m 29 going on 30 this year. I’ve never put a lot of thought into what I ate before, after or during a run. It was never mentioned to me by my high school coach, and rarely by my division 1 college coach. I received a full ride to run, and although I managed to run decent times in my 800, I never felt I performed the best I could. I think the lack of good nutrition is probably what held me back. I’m new to the nutrition side of running, and I’m honestly only reading right now. I haven’t implemented anything I’ve read yet because I’m seeing what’s most proven and popular. I’ve had two knee injuries along with two children, and I’m just coming back after three years, so I’m pretty slow right now at about a 23 minute 5k and 7 minute mile (long way away from where I used to be). I really don’t know where to start because there’s so much to all of it. A meal before I run, something while I run, something after I run, and even nutritious foods throughout the day. It’s a lot. Where would you suggest I begin? I used to just put on my running gear and go. I’d run 3 miles or 5 or 7 or 8 on my mileage days (and that’s what I do presently but rarely under 4 miles). And I also have crazy hard workouts on the track consisting of loads of 1000’s, 400’s, 350’s, 1200/400/800/400 and 4x4x200, etc… I don’t want to start breaking down before I find my peak. HELP!!

  • Hi! Your idea regarding to yerba mate as caffein source is great! However, I wouldn’t add grounded leaves for they need to suffer a decoccion in order to release the caffein (and minerals and vitamins). As paraguayan, I drank yerba mate all my life. Here’s a little advice: boil two grounded spoons of yerba mate in one liter of water. Then put it in the refrigerator. There you have a special tea for at least three days. You can either add it to your beverage or drink it alone.

  • Great post, Matt! I’ve been a vegetarian for 4 years and am starting to train for my first half marathon (it’s in February). During the week I get up at 6, change, and go for a run. I can’t eat right after I get up and don’t really want to get up 45 minutes earlier to fuel up.. What are the disadvantages of running on an empty stomach? Do you have any tips on how to avoid those with my schedule? I also can’t wait to make that vegan energy gel! Thank you!

  • Someone might have said all I have to say already, but at the present time I just can’t be bothered to read all the comments!
    “Coconut oil is even better for workouts, as the liver treats it similarly to glucose, a carbohydrate. ” THIS MEANING you should add it to pre-workout ingestible or during, but does that mean that its not ‘as good’ for recovery?!
    I ALWAYS (pretty much) drink Brendan Braziers recovery drink after all exercise.
    I tend not to stock agave too often – what should I substitute this for?? (I’ve been using raw honey …)
    Regarding caffeine; as it says in one of the many (or all of them maybe) vegan/raw/vegetarian training books I’ve read lately; If you add a caffeine source be sure to include MACA POWDER in in your recovery drink/meal.
    Regarding electrolytes and such; use yes coconut water, and you can have it before, during and as the ‘wet ingr’ in your recovery drink/meal – I add both micro- and macroalgae to my recoverydrink (kelp/dulse and chlorella/spirulina), whereas the algae provide lots of nutrients!
    Good post! ^^

  • What a great site! Just discovered it. Im a 47yo vegetarian endurance triathlete , recently tried staying off potatoes pasta etc, felt great and training increased for a few weeks, now feel Im burning muscle and hitting a wall regulary. I have used virin coconut oil for years, but guess Ill have to adjust something. Hopefully find a few answers here. Thanks

  • I have been using “Skinny coconut oil” for the last 6 months before I run. I can feel the boosts of energy their raw coconut oil gives me. It also gives my mind clarity when going on long runs!!!

  • Hi,
    Just came across your site. Great information. As a vegetarian I am always struggling to meet my bodies demands with nutrition. I run but my true passion is OCR races!
    I am currently using the Warrior Food Extreme Vanilla Plus protein. Can you tell me how yours is different?

  • I’ve recently started high intensity workouts (Insanity and Kickboxing), both high impact and v v sweaty! I never really know what to eat before I workout (I don’t want to feel overfull and sick, have gas or need the loo in the middle of a workout! lol) so usually just have a banana an hour or so before I train. Some sessions go great, other times I feel so empty….
    I’m reading No Meat Athlete at the moment, and devouring all the info here. Thanks Matt!
    I am going to see if chia seeds and coconut water make a difference to my energy levels!

  • Thanks for this post, Matt! What kind of timing do you recommend before a race like a half marathon? I ran VCM on Sunday (I think I might’ve spotted you there last year!). I had some banana and PB like an hour before. It is not the first time I’ve done that, but anyway I ended up with really bad cramping, had to stuff a pile of tums onboard right before the race and had a really tough run. I mean, I clearly had a bug or something, but I want to be like extra careful next time. Hoping to make up for it in Ithaca in June. Any advice? I’m thinking of running on empty. I usually make a little homemade chia gel that I start to sip at mile 5. (I’m vegan, too!)

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